Blackwood Gazette #111- Mathis Galland Signs Colonial Woman to his Racing League; Four Others Back Out

By Huxley Pruitt, Sports

30/4- Mathis Galland’s much anticipated air racing league has hit a snag this week. His decision to sign Marcy Quail, a woman bush pilot from the colonies’ northern territories, has sparked controversy amongst those racers already signed as well as the wider sports world.

“The idea of a woman competing with a man is patently ridiculous,” said Bart Blunderberg, a racer from Rommsbach who formerly served as an officer in the Crowndon Air Corps and announced his resignation from the league upon hearing the news. “It always has been. That’s why we have separate leagues in all other sports, if the women have leagues at all. It’s bad enough we have to race against these backwoods hicks from the Middle of Nowhere with their third rate scrap jobs, but women? From the colonies, on top of that? I’m done.”

Three other racers backed out at the news as well, all of them from the tentatively named Legacy League (a title self-proclaimed by those racers hailing from the military and private service amongst the Triumvirate aristocracy.) Mathis Galland does not seem worried, however.

“If they want to behave like children and stomp out of the room holding their toys, let them,” Galland said. “There is no room in my league for such behavior. And the nature of racing, one of mechanical, rather than physical, prowess and skill render the typical arguments against integrated sports leagues irrelevant in this matter. Not that that would matter, in Miss Quail’s case. She’s six foot four and two hundred pounds of pure muscle. When I went to recruit her, she’d just thrown some poor sod who’d gotten too fresh with her through a wall.

“If someone can maintain and fly their aircraft, I couldn’t give two wet [expletive removed] where they’re from or what their genitals are. It’s also noteworthy that those pilots who dropped out are from Crowndon, and the Crowndon military at that. It’s well known they don’t allow women in combat roles, while we here in Nor Easter do. Now, I don’t want to say that our fighting women are the sole reason we won the war, but…we have fighting women, and we won the war.”

Blackwood Gazette #111- Mathis Galland Signs Colonial Woman to his Racing League; Four Others Back Out

Blackwood Gazette #110- No Further Evidence of Missing Expedition Found; Authorities Call Off Search After Several Parties Go Missing

By Hil Spencer, New Crowndon Correspondent

29/4- Sad news today for those of us at the Gazette and those closely following the disappearance of the Lelina expedition: the Colonial Marshals have called off their ongoing search for the missing townspeople and the academic team sent to investigate ruins in the area.

The news comes as an exceptionally hard blow after the recent ray of hope in finding Martine Babin, a member of the expedition. After the professor was recovered, search efforts in the area between Lelina and Point Hammond were doubled. However, a rash of disappearances amongst the search parties has caused the efforts to be ceased immediately.

“This decision is deeply regrettable,” said Chief Arnold Murray. “But the price of a continued search outweighs the benefit of finding the missing persons. Since we renewed the search, the number of missing has tripled.”

On top of the news that the search has ended in the wake of these new disappearances, Chief Murray has ordered a mandatory evacuation for the township of Point Hammond, as well as all townships south of the McHammet-Docker line.

“There’s something strange going on in the region,” Murray went on to say. “We have no idea what it is, and I’m not sure we can figure it out without losing a large number of people. Quite frankly, whatever is going on has me scared, and I don’t admit that lightly.”

The evacuation is already underway. Memorial services for the missing will be held early next week. A public ceremony for Gazette reporter Adella Chatelaine will be held at the paper’s Oeil de Fleur office in Nor Easter next Mursday morning.

Blackwood Gazette #110- No Further Evidence of Missing Expedition Found; Authorities Call Off Search After Several Parties Go Missing

Blackwood Gazette #109: Crew of the Strident Whisper Detained on Libertine’s Roost; Triumvirate Authorities Negotiating Release

By Chester Seaton, News

28/4-The crew of the Strident Whisper, the Crowndonian brig that made landfall on Libertine’s Roost after suffering mechanical failure, has been detained by one of the merchant’s guilds based on the island.

Details are scarce surrounding the reasons for the detainment, but we do know that several of the Whisper’s crew involved themselves in the affairs of the merchant’s guild in question. Due to the complex treaties that exist between the Roost and the Triumvirate and bestow upon the Roost its independent status, recovering the crew will prove to be a challenge.

“We’re lucky the entire crew hasn’t been hanged,” said Commodore Lucien Keene, head of the Toring Second Flotilla, of which the Whisper was a part. “The denizens of the Roost are typically very stern when it comes to punishing those who break their myriad codes and guidelines (I hesitate to use the word ‘laws’). As far as we know, they are still alive, which is promising. I wouldn’t be surprised though if the only reason for that is they’re trying to figure out a way to execute them without angering the Crowndon fleet.”

According to Fleet Command, the crew of the Whisper have been in detention since early this month. When we asked why the news was only being broken now, Commodore Keene was surprisingly candid.

“We’d hoped to keep it under wraps,” he said. “But the families of the crew have begun poking around, and that always accelerates things. We’ve sent envoys to speak to the Guild leaders. Early exchanges have been promising. But we must remember who we’re dealing with; despite the title of ‘Guild’, they’re little more than pirates. If they feel they can enact their primitive notions of justice within the bounds of the treaties, I fear they will.”

Blackwood Gazette #109: Crew of the Strident Whisper Detained on Libertine’s Roost; Triumvirate Authorities Negotiating Release

Vicarious Viewing: Game of Thrones S5E3- “High Sparrow” Review

Margaery Antagonizes Cersei on Game of Thrones, season 5 episode 3 High Sparrow

This season is shaping up to be REALLY interesting, isn’t it? Much has been made of the fact that the show has pretty much exhausted the source material on which it is based, and the reigning consensus I’ve seen among fans of the books is that the material that is left is, well, rather bloated and tedious. Personally, I have to admit that I am one with this camp. It took me forever to get through Feast of Crows and I still haven’t finished Dance with Dragons.

That said, I think the show so far has done an admirable job of adding, changing, and just all around streamlining the events of the books in particularly interesting ways, and in two stories in particular.

One of those big changes featured heavily in this week’s episode, concerning Sansa Stark. By taking her back to Winterfell and having her actually be betrothed to Ramsay Stark instead of some proxy posing as Arya, the show-runners have succeeded in both trimming a lot of fat and upping the tension tenfold. We all know how much of a monster Ramsay Bolton is, and putting Sansa face to face with him is nerve wracking to say the least. I just hope it doesn’t devolve into more victimization. And who knows what the hell is going to happen when she finds out Theon is around, or what this take on the story will have Theon do.

The other story being streamlined to hell and back is Tyrion, and it’s better for it. Rather than spending hundreds of pages with a character that mostly undermines Daenerys’ story while ultimately amounting to nothing, Tyrion gets to straight on to Volantis. We get some important plot building here, of course, with the Red Priestess talking about a savior (and I guess putting the faith surrounding the Lord of Light firmly in Dany’s camp, at least for now), and Ser Jorah showing up and capturing Tyrion mid piss. This was done a bit awkwardly, I think. Unless I missed it, there didn’t seem to be a shot of Jorah spotting Tyrion and figuring out who he was, though Tyrion was being pretty damn obvious about it (“I’m known for paying my debts”). And there’s a halfhearted attempt to make us think that Jorah is going to take Tyrion to Cersei when he mentions an ambiguous “Queen”, but I think we all know he’ll try to use the son of Tywin Lannister to get back into Dany’s good graces.

Back in King’s Landing, Tommen and Margaery are wed, and nobody dies. But Tommen does find himself a pawn between his new Queen and the Queen Mother. This all led to my favorite exchange of the night, the gut wrenchingly passive aggressive conversation between Margaery and Cersei. Since her first appearance on Game of Thrones I’ve seen Natalie Dormer in a few other things, and I have to say she’s quickly becoming a favorite of mine. And the way the writers and director have shown Cersei’s slow loss of relevance and her reaction to it has been really well done, two examples being the palanquin ride to the sept for the wedding in which the crowds expressed their support of Margaery, and then as Cersei was walking away from the new queen and her friends as they laughed.
Cersei’s not out of the fight, though, and sees an opportunity arise in the form of the Sparrows, who have taken it upon themselves to publicly humiliate what I guess is Westeros’s version of the pope.

Up on the wall, Jon Snow gives Stannis a reply to his offer to make him Lord of Winterfell. Being appointed as Commander has only re-enforced Jon’s commitment to his vows, and he seems fully aware that not everyone is happy with his appointment. Janos Slynt voices this opinion quite loudly and loses his head for it (YAY!). Jon does get an interesting tid-bit to mull over however, when Davos points out that, despite the Night’s Watch charter of neutrality in Seven Kingdoms politics, perhaps being the protector of the realms of men might mean stepping in to sort shit out. After all, I’ve said it time and again that the greatest threat Westeros faces is being divided by petty squabbles when the White Walkers show up. Perhaps by standing idly by and letting politics divide the living while the dead march on unopposed isn’t exactly in line with his vows after all.

Finally, over in Braavos, we are reminded that the Faceless Men, like those of the Red faith, have only one god as well. The god of many Faces is a clever concept, however, because it allows for the existence of Westeros’ disparate pantheons, as Aryan points out that The Stranger, the Drowned God, and the Weirwood tree are represented in the House of Black and White (perhaps no coincidence that all of these gods are associated with Death).

Arya, like Jon, faces a choice concerning her identity. In order to become Faceless, she must shed her identity as Arya Stark. As Not Jaqen points out, she’s wearing Arya Stark’s clothes, using Arya Stark’s name, and carrying Arya Stark’s sword. Arya manages to throw most of her possessions into the sea, but in great emotional beat she just can’t bring herself to toss needle into the brine, instead opting to stash it under a cairn.

All and all a strong episode that worked to re-invest us in the remaining Stark children, particularly Sansa, who has returned to Winterfell, and Jon, who was offered Winterfell should Stannis win. And out there, somewhere, Brienne and Pod wander (their exchange was really cool as well, with Brienne finally warming up to Pod and agreeing to teach him to fight). ‘Til next week!

Vicarious Viewing: Game of Thrones S5E3- “High Sparrow” Review

Blackwood Gazette #108: New Location of Academy of Alchemists and Alliterators Revealed

By Basilio Mura, Nor Easter Correspondent

27/4- The zoning committee and city council of Oeil de Fleur have reached a decision regarding the new location for the Academic Alliance of Alchemists and Alliterators, and to the surprise of no one, not everyone is happy.

“This is [expletive removed]!” said Reynard Houlcombe, the owner of a hostel and bar in the district where the Academy will be relocated. “I have been running this business for forty years, and this is the third time these malcontents have been moved into my area of town. Every time they do, business plummets. These alchemists, they don’t drink. They buy one glass of absinthe, and they nurse it, all night long, trading quips and laughing loudly at things no one understands. They take up space and drive away other customers. I swear, they are following me around! I fear I will have to move again.”

The zoning committee is, of course, trying to spin the relocation of the Academy as a positive for the area.

“Despite their reputation,” one member of the board said, “The Academy continues to be a prime spot for foreign visitors. They travel from all over the world, coming to gawk at our lauded alchemical practitioners. Every time we’ve moved them, the district in question has seen a spike in tourism and enjoyed an economic boom as a result.”

“Sure, until they end up destroying the district in question,” said one resident when we told her of the committee’s statement. “It always happens. Could be the day they move in, or ten years from now. One day, one of those so called ‘geniuses’ is going to get the wrong notion in his head and blow us all up. Just you wait and see. I’m not, though. I’ve already packed and I’m moving in with my ma on the other side of the city.”

The members of the Academy are expected to start moving into their new building next week. They have spent the weeks following the fire that claimed their last location in the Imperial Palace, where it is said that Empress Bastian has greatly enjoyed their company, but is ready for them to go.

Blackwood Gazette #108: New Location of Academy of Alchemists and Alliterators Revealed

Blackwood Gazette #107: Venue Review- The New Empress Theatre

By Alex Grosset, Arts and Entertainment

24/4-I recently had the honor of attending the grand opening of the New Empress Theatre in Oeil de Fleur, and while the show I attended, “Fires of D’kalm D’korr” is still the same steaming pile of popular garbage that it was last year, I am happy to report that the venue is better than ever.

The first thing I noticed was that, despite being built on the same lot and constructed to roughly the same size, the new theatre is a veritable cavern compared to the old. The previous Empress theatre had a lower roof to accommodate an attic for the storage of props. This new build features a two level basement, allowing the auditorium to extend to all the way to roof level. Likewise, dressing rooms and management offices have been moved underground as well, allowing a larger stage to allow for more dynamic sets and larger casts.

The play itself, while still terrible in terms of its subject matter, used this extra space to increase its spectacle. The larger stage allowed for more impressive battle scenes, and new lighting rigs both on stage and throughout the auditorium immersed the audience during Hostander Alleroy’s nighttime soliloquy in the second act. Unfortunately, I fear these technological advances will only endorse more vapid spectacle in the future, rather than good storytelling. Still, I have hopes that with the right playwright and director, this extra space and lighting could be employed to riveting effect.

The seating, likewise, has undergone a major improvement. Seats on the floor are now arranged in a semi-circle around the stage, similar to the concert hall in Yves, so that even attendees on the outer edges get a good view of the stage. Balcony seating is constructed similarly, and the higher ceiling offers a third row. The seats have all been upholstered using soft leather, ensuring greater longevity and a decreased chance of spreading lice, I am told. I heard others grumbling about discomfort, and the noise of people shifting their weight (at one point, such shifting resulted in a noise not unlike flatulence, disrupting what I am told is meant to be a key emotional beat) but I had no such complaints.

All in all, I had an enjoyable experience. The new theatre is beautifully constructed, both inside and out, and I found much amusement during intermission and after the play, picking apart its short comings with my fellow critics. The only blight on the evening was the protest outside, deriding Delando for his deception aboard the Heisenberg. I would have joined them, but for entirely different reasons.

Blackwood Gazette #107: Venue Review- The New Empress Theatre

Blackwood Gazette #106: Julianos’ Forces Issue Bounty on Bandit Responsible for Soldiers’ Death

by Chester Seaton, News

23/4- The investigation into the deaths of five Julianos soldiers in a small Monteddorian farming community has already borne fruit. A spokesperson for Julianos issued a statement today about the suspected assassin.

“We believe we are looking for a woman named Dougherty,” the spokesperson said. “She is the daughter of a Monteddorian woman and a Crowndonian expatriate named Alexander Dougherty, a deserter of the Air Corps who left the northern empire after the Minor Disagreement thirty five years ago.

“She is dark of hair, in her late twenties/early thirties, and said to favor her Monteddorian mother, which will allow her to blend in with the populace, except for a mess of scars and tattoos on her arms. It is reported that she keeps these covered with long sleeves.

“Though she is unremarkable in appearance, eye witnesses say she carries a revolver. Given the rarity of such weapons, and even rarer the possession of such weapons by Monteddorian women, we have faith that the bandit named Dougherty will be found soon.”

Julianos has issued a 200,000 tallo (roughly 20,000 gold pieces) bounty for Dougherty, dead or alive, and a 50,000 tallo reward for information leading to her capture or death. The statement also states that Dougherty is travelling with a platoon strength force of supporters. That force is slowly growing larger, as Dougherty is actively recruiting.

“We stress caution when trying to deal with Dougherty,” the spokesperson said. “Though most of the people supporting her are merely farmers, the numbers and fervor with which they are said to defend her have already become storied in the region.

“She’s become a hero among the folk. We must proceed with caution.”

The Bandit, "Dougherty"
copyright@blackwoodempire.com. Drawing by Ryan Pierce

 

Blackwood Gazette #106: Julianos’ Forces Issue Bounty on Bandit Responsible for Soldiers’ Death